President Trump met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week to discuss an infrastructure bill which ultimately totaled a whopping $2 trillion.
During the meeting, the president even offered the Pelosi a Tic Tac, according to a New York Times article written by Annie Karni, Emily Cochrane and Alan Rappeport.
She accepted, and a nation swooned over the display of congeniality. Afterwards, all participants emerged in a fog of hopeful bipartisanship.
Trump tweeted about this bipartisan bill. “There is nothing easy about a USA Infrastructure Plan, especially when our great Country has spent an astounding 7 trillion dollars in the Middle East over the last 19 years,” he wrote. “But I am looking hard at a bipartisan plan of 1 to 2 trillion dollars. Badly needed!”
Schumer was also enthusiastic. The minority leader also took to Twitter. “We agreed on a number that was very, very good — $2 trillion for infrastructure,” Schumer wrote. “Originally we had started a little lower. Even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion.”
He also noted the presence of an uncharacteristic “goodwill” during the discussions, describing the tone as “different than some of the other meetings that we’ve had.” This was the first time this group had sat down together since the acrimonious 35-day government shutdown.
With all the feelings of Tic-Tac-sharing joy, a salient fact is being lost here: bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship is not a good thing.
When the Congressional Budget Office released 2019 budget projections in January, the news was dire: the deficit increased 17 percent in 2018 and will rise another 15 percent increase this year. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s nearly $900 billion. The CBO’s 10 year projection for the national debt is particularly chilling: they estimated it would be about $11 trillion higher than today: $33.7 trillion.
So low, CBO? Didn’t you calculate for the bipartisan fervor sweeping the swamp?
Since Trump was elected, the constant refrain coming for the hand-wringing intellectuals is a call for civility. Yes, we need more civility. But what we need less of? Politicians who go along to get along. So-called political leaders who lock arms in their desire to spend away our futures, and the futures of our grandchildren. And Trump, for all of his bombast and supposed economic prowess, just keeps spending.
“The president noted he liked the $2 trillion figure because it sounded better than $1.9 trillion,” the New York Times article helpfully explained.
I’m old enough to remember when $100 billion was not a rounding error. Perhaps he intended this as a joke, but it isn’t very funny. While campaigning, Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. What’s happened since 2016 that required that number to double? It’s no laughing matter.
But Trump is not alone in his carelessness. Do Pelosi and Schumer think we’re going to swallow the idea America can’t afford a $5 billion wall to protect our border, but we’re just fine to spend $3 trillion on bridges, highways, broadband, and rail roads?
“Let them eat cake” was apocryphally attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette in 1843 when she heard the French peasants didn’t have bread to eat. Since cake required expensive butter and eggs, this was used to show she lacked a proper appreciation of her fellow-countrymen’s dire situation.
After this ridiculous fee-goodism over infrastructure bill, perhaps our political leaders can say, “Let them eat Tic Tacs.” No matter how well those D.C. insiders are getting along, they obviously don’t understand how bad or dire our ever-growing national debt really is.
In three weeks, Trump is supposed to reveal his plans on how to pay for this infrastructure. I’m not holding my breath. The Tax Policy Center’s Howard Gleckman also believes it’s all a big political show. “If you are not really going to pass a bill,” he said, “you may as well not pass a $2 trillion bill.”
Democrats and Republicans’ angst over not getting along is much less concerning than their promiscuous spending when they do. Here’s a radical thought: we shouldn’t let fatigue from the political fighting cloud our fiscal conservatism.
Partisanship can actually be good — when it means a politician stands by his time-tested, conservative principles.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.